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Say goodbye to your latency-aged child and say hello to your tween!


New morning rules. Note odor control is number one.

It happened this morning. I shared the list of rules that I had made up for Theo, our eleven year old son, with my mom. “Say goodbye to your latency aged child and say hello to your tween!” she chirped over the phone from Florida. (For those who aren’t psychiatrists or raised by two of them for that matter, latency age is the lovely, sunny stage of personality development, extending from about four to five years of age to the beginning of puberty.)

She’s right dammit. My always positive, full of hugs little boy is gone. The one who:

  • Would say he looooooved me so much when he was a toddler that my husband was known to say sarcastically “Yes, Theo, we KNOW. You LOVE mommy. Mommy loves you. Everybody loves everybody”.
  • Thought my singing in the car was awesome.
  • Would hold my hand. Anyplace, anywhere.
  • Could have two teenaged sisters fighting to the death in the background and would be oblivious.

Theo, age four

In his place, is a tween. A tween who:

  • Gleefully informed me the other day that he has “two hairs under each arm”.
  • Smells like an old-timey dockworker when he comes home from school (so…the Axe antiperspirant and footspray on the list).
  • Has made talking back into a new art form. Me “Stop talking back.” Theo “I’m not talking back” Me “You just did” Theo “No, I didn’t”. Ad infinitum. Not to forget the closely related: Theo “Stop yelling at me” (while yelling). Me “I am not yelling” (irritated but measured mom voice). “Telling you something you don’t like is not yelling”. Theo “You’re yelling again” (while yelling).
  • Couldn’t be found by his college freshman sister the other day in Walgreens. Was located by the magazine section. Wide eyed. In front of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
  • Adores swearing so much that facing a punishment for using bad words, invented his own new swearword (a form of “heck”=”hecken”. As in “what the hecken heck?”). We had to put our foot down when this escalated to “mother hecker”.

Theo, age eleven. Proud inventor of “hecken heck”.

And yes. I know he has to grow up. But he is my last child. The one whose every stage has been a “that’s the last time, I will ever…..”. At fifty, I certainly don’t want another baby. And given that my eldest is eighteen, I certainly am not ready for grandchildren. Another dog? I know another mom who has adopted a new dog every time one of her kids went off to college. My husband would head for the hills like one of those cartoon characters jumping through a wall and leaving only the outline of his fleeing body.

So, it’s happening. I have a more hairy, smelly, newly interested in girls, foul-mouthed version of my beloved Theo.

And there’s nothing I can do about it. Except to make sure that the Axe and footspray are applied early and often. But it is comforting that at the end of the day (when he is really tired), I still get to hear “Good night. I love you Mom.”

Postscript: I shared the blogpost with Theo who commented “I liked it when you said ‘dammit’”.

kales@umich.eduSay goodbye to your latency-aged child and say hello to your tween!

1 comment

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  • MacPhee Gordon - March 11, 2016 reply

    Reading your blog was like revisiting my time with Elliot 12 years ago. Elliot is my baby and yes I knew he had to grow up. I let go but felt I was about to lose my balance.
    I read the following article which helped me.
    I read a great article by Alfie Kohn.

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